Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Law School Stress & Pro-Active Anti-Stress Measures for All of Us (i.e., Be A Brain Cell Creator!

Stress.  Oh my!  

Just the thought of it hits me in the stomach.  But, there's more than just stomach aches at stake.

According to law professor Debra Austin, Ph.D., excessive law school stress also harms the mind too.  That's the bad news. But, here's the great news!  In fact, it is really terrific news!  And, it is news that we can all use…today! 

But first, some background.  

As the American Bar Association (ABA) reports with respect to Prof. Austin's research, in general stress weakens brain cognition.  But, exercise (along with other pro-active measures) actually creates more brain cells…brain cells that we can all use (whether students or ASP'ers) to perform better and without debilitating stress:  http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/stress_may_be_killing_law_students_brain_cells_law_prof_says 

So, as many of us begin a new year of legal studies as students and ASP'ers, it's time to take charge over stress rather than having stress take charge over us.  But how, you might ask?

Here's a list of three (3) possible "anti-stress"countermeasures straight out of the research from Prof. Austin:

  1. Be an exerciser…because neuroscience shows that exercise provides us with "cognitive restoration."
  2. Get slumber time…because sleep plays "the key role...in consolidating memories."  So, sleep on your studies rather than staying up all night to study!
  3. Engage in contemplative practices…such as mindfulness, meditation, relaxation, and focusing on the positive in gratitude…because such practices increase "the gray matter in the thinking brain," improve "psychological functions such as attention, compassion, and empathy," and "decrease stress-related cortisol," among other positives.

     

For all the details, please see Prof. Austin's research article Killing Them Softly: Neuroscience Reveals How Brain Cells Die From Law School Stress and How Neural Self-Hacking Can Optimize Cognitive Performance, 59 Loyola L. Rev. 791 (2013), available at:  http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2227155

To sum up, learning - real learning - means that we all must take time…counter-intuitively...away from learning…so that we can really experience learning.  So, be kind to yourself today...by resting and relaxing and exercising.  You'll be mighty happy that you did!  (Scott Johns).

 

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/academic_support/2016/08/law-school-anti-stress-pro-active-measures-be-a-brain-cell-creator.html

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